Artichoke Hearts

Victor Wuamett, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (268p) ISBN 978-0-312-06294-1
Sexuality and materialism loom large in the California setting of Waumett's ( Teardown ) flawed but winning mystery starring series hero, real-estate broker Chase Randel. When artichoke farmer Joe Pacheco asks Randel to find a buyer for his seaside property in Mar Vista, Randel arrives in his Mercedes with a developer who wants to build an ``arts resort.'' But the county planning director, Irwin Gordon, opposes the sale on the grounds that a species of mice will be further endangered. Gordon's consulting ecologist Lillian Landgaart is found dead in a rowboat, with Randel's room key in her pocket. Freed by a watertight alibi, Randel, desperate to save the sale, does not tell the authorities that he had witnessed Gordon and the victim arguing violently. Hoping to investigate Gordon and whoever might be pulling his strings, Randel allows former lover Molly Gish to help. His immediate concern, however, is Tina Pacheco, Joe's daughter and Gordon's girlfriend who, with the likely motive of jealousy, has been arrested for the crime. Revealed in a riveting scene, the answer is a shocker. While confusion mars the inspired resolution, readers who enjoy the lively writing will not strongly object. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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